The Family begins a soft, somewhat sad seduction. Marnie, back from College, is wounded and lonely. She meets Gill, a strange young man who entices her to do things she’ll regret. Crime and punishment and they flee to Vancouver. She’s not ready for the violence, the drugs, life on the very edge. She has no one, nothing. It all falls to pieces. Dying alone, we find what has driven Gill mad! More
A bus trundles into an end of the line destination, in rural Canada. Marnie, shy, sensitive, struggling to find herself, returns from a year at Berkeley. A wild friend/sweetheart’s suicide has shaken everything. She’s not looking forward to her dysfunctional family, her drugging and drug dealing brother, Mark. But an unusually handsome, hypnotic, adventurous young man is the family’s new ‘rent a kid’, living with them, secretly Mark’s lover. It even feels like Mark has given himself over entirely to his new ‘best buddy’. Gill befriends her, invites her along for some heavy, drug laced adventures. Seduces her. Unexpectedly, the Summer gets exciting. Marnie is breaking free of sexual and emotional suppression, discovering herself. Gill has been on the wrong side of the law for most of his life, and he seems to have no fear or inhibitions. When they elope, fly away on his motorcycle, looking to have a wild honeymoon --- complete with a heavy acid trip that leaves Gill stunned --- everything begins to unravel. Mark loses it, threatens both of them, and then destroys the family home, torching everything Gill owns, and pinning the blame on him and Marnie. Her parents freak. She has to decide, be with Gill or stay safely at home. The novel switches mood entirely. Gill has many connections in Vancouver. He introduces Marnie to a life she has only read about. Street life, scamming, prostituting and ethnic gangs First ‘borrowing’ everything Marnie has taken from her parents, then hooking up with the Vietnamese U Thet, Gill is desperate to survive, score, make it big. She learns more and more about this boy-man she’s attached herself to, for better or worse. Pressure ratchets up. All around her women strip or sell themselves, the men do and scam drugs, there’s the threat of violence everywhere. Marnie gets raped. Gill owes a lot of money, and he can’t pay. She pays the price, and collapses. All she sought from Gill has been betrayed, yet she feels there’s no way back to innocence. Things get potentially lethal when Gill decides to retaliate. He’ll rip off the gangs, pay them back for what they did to Marnie, and get away with a big score. He brings Marnie into it, sets her up to help at key times. And the inevitable catastrophe gets both of them shot, Gill seriously. Marnie’s shattered life! We now find her stunned, depressed, trying to understand how she could have become so dependent, addicted, obsessed. Her brother tells her a secret. Gill has returned from jail in Ontario, and is living in a cottage outside Vancouver. Against common sense, still trying to make sense of what she’d done, she goes to visit her lover, tormentor, enslaver. Gill is a broken shard of his former self. He was shot through the face, put back together haphazardly, jailed with the real criminals in Kingston. Heroin, depression and bitterness. Marnie sees that his glorious, outrageous seemingly transcendent self was a chimera. He’s planning to end his sojourn, and for the first time, allows Marnie to see him, to understand where he has come from. In a sad farewell, he gives her his last writing, the story of a childhood of confusion and insanity. Gill has written a heartrending account of living with an alcoholic father and an insane mother. He and his brother clung to each other through isolation, abuse and crazy-making scenes all their young lives. We can scarcely credit the levels of abuse. Gill adored his brother and was shattered when eventually Donnie rejected him, fled their mentally ill Mother, and finally ended his own life. Gill had tried to find some path to his own sanity on the streets of Toronto. And finally we read about Surgit and Audrey, the mismatched and ferocious parents. The novel has delved into a remarkable life of overwhelming suffering. Marnie saw surfaces, was at first naively attracted to a thrilling body and an intense energy. In the end everyone paid. Extravagantly.